But don't worry, you don't have to choose between enjoying this time of year and becoming an environmental grinch. There are plenty of simple steps that you and your family can take if you are dreaming of a "green" holiday season. To have your gingerbread cookie and eat it too, check out the 12 tips below.
1: Give a compact fluorescent light bulb or two or three
as gifts. Save your friends and family money and save the
planet too. Old-fashioned light bulbs waste 85% of their
energy in heat and don't last long. Compact florescent bulbs
these days come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. A 100% compact
florescent household makes a great New Year's resolution, and a
good investment in energy (and money!) savings.
2: Pull the plug on dirty presents. Electronics
are popular gifts so rather than just consider the cost, check out
companies are doing more than others to make cleaner products.
This year's presents shouldn't be
next year's toxic waste.
(Ok, we know. Sometimes we can't resist that new
iPod or MacBook either, despite the fact that Apple is bottom of
the barrel when it comes to toxic content and recycling policies.
If you really can't wait until Apple cleans up its act to
buy one, make sure you do something for the Green my Apple
campaign to tell Steve Jobs that we love Apple products, but we
want them to come in green. Make sure your gift recipient gets the
3: Pay for the present, not the packaging. Put
some thought into the gifts you are purchasing. Avoid products that
are over-packaged or made from
toxic PVC plastic or from
endangered trees like mahogany.
4: Travel smart. When it's time to go shopping
for the perfect gift or visit relatives, try to take public
transportation or carpool for trips. Every time you hop in your car
or even worse a plane, you're producing greenhouse gases which
global warming. Even better? Shop online. You can get your
loved ones gift
memberships to environmental organizations, like
5: Cut down on paper. Why not have fun making
your own wrapping paper out of recycled paper? With a potato stamp
and some water paint you can make unique wrapping paper. Cut up
last years cards to make perfect recycled gift tags. Make sure your
waste wrapping paper goes in the recycling. If you send holiday
cards, look for a recycled content or better yet, an e-card.
6: Be tree friendly. If a tree is traditionally
part of your celebrations, a living, potted one is your best option
because it can be reused next year. If you must use a cut tree, ask
your local officials about tree recycling or if you can chip the
tree to use as mulch in your garden.
7: Less is more. If you decorate your home with
lights, think about how much energy they use. Don't forget to turn
off the lights before you go to bed or go out, and use LED bulbs to
8: Go au natural. Replace those plastic,
over-priced holiday decorations, with natural reuseable decorations
like whitewashed branches and pine cones. They can put you in the
holiday spirit just as easily as a huge, inflatable snowman
9:Cut down on your shopping. As a general rule
the more you buy and consume the more of the planet's limited
resources you are using up. Try to buy local produce to cut the
travel miles your holiday essentials have clocked up.
10: Break out the china. When it comes time to
party down, do so with real dishes - not disposables. Ask your
friends to borrow some of their plates and glasses or rent them.
Cleanup will be a little tougher, but it's worth it. If you must
use disposable, look for recycled content.
11: Hang lots of mistletoe. This won't really
help the environment. But more kissing has got to be good for world
12: Get started on those New Year's
resolutions! Make number one taking
action on important environmental issues. For more ideas on
what you can do all year long, check out our
Green Living Guide.